Monday, July 18, 2011

God's Way?

I want to talk about money and this whole concept of money "God's way."  I was listening to some Christian talk radio the other day and heard some things that bothered me.  I won't mention the name of the man I was listening to because I don't want to slander anyone or be divisive. 

This man said a couple of times that he is teaching people how to handle their finances "God's way" and he said it is what most people call "commonsense."  Therein lies the first thing that bothered me.  In my reading of the Bible and in my own life I do not see God as a God of commonsense.  Do you?

Three years ago Chris and I felt that God was asking us to adopt a child from Ethiopia, to give a family to someone who did not have one.  I was an actor and he was a pastor and we were renting a 550 square foot duplex in Pasadena and we had a lot of student loan debt and no savings.  An adoption from Ethiopia costs about $30,000 folks.  Does that sound like commonsense?  You know what my commonsense and the commonsense of many people close to me said?  YOU CAN'T DO THAT!  You don't have $30,000 and you're not going to have $30,000.

Well, God blasted commonsense to smithereens.

So I don't think "God's way" of finances has to do with commonsense at all.

The other thing that bothered me was this man talking about savings as part of "God's way" with money.  Now let me make it clear that I'm not against savings.  I think it's smart by this world's standards.  I'm not saying you're doing something wrong by having a savings account or a retirement set up.  I do have a problem with stamping the Lord's name on that and saying it's His way of doing money.  In my reading of the Bible, I see more of God saying savings is foolishness than I see of God saying savings is ordained.  In Luke 12, there's the story of the man who builds up storehouses of food, etc. for himself (a retirement account, right?), and Jesus calls him a fool because he's going to die that night and then who will get all of it.  And when Jesus sends out the twelve in Matthew 12, He tells them not to take even an extra shirt, but to let others support them and share with them.  So no savings, no plan for providing for the future, not even a second set of clothes.

Like I said, I'm not trying to be divisive.  I am trying to ruffle some feathers, I'll be honest.  Because we are supposed to live differently, right?  We are supposed to look foolish to the world.  We're supposed to be willing to do what God asks of us regardless of what that means for our bank account.  We're supposed to have a more profound idea of "retiring" that involves turning the world upside down, not settling in for a nice long rest.  And it just bothers me when the church becomes a 5 step program to live comfortably and have a cushy retirement. 

I'd love to hear your thoughts.


~Stacy said...

I'm with you all the way Laurel! Loved this post, and it is definitely a subject the Lord has been speaking to us as well. The Bible is pretty clear that our hearts are not to invest in the treasures and comforts of this world,(clearly still working on this!) for we are just passing through. Our home, and our "retirement" is in heaven. So we should be investing our every resource in the lives of others because the only thing we can take with us into eternity is other souls. God tells us over and over... give, give, share, give... we can store up treasures here on earth to no eternal benefit, or we can invest, out of love, in souls for our "retirement",by giving and sharing abundantly, beyond our own abilities, with those in need, trusting God to continue to provide, that they might know Him and glorify Him and join us in our "retirement home". I think that kind of investment will have the greatest return! Now may the Lord help us to live it! Love you girl... keep seeking Him, because He's shining through you!

mary gendron said...

I think there is truth to what you wrote, but I thought of Joseph and the dreams he interpreted for Pharaoh. There would be 7 years of plenty and 7 years of famine. God wanted them to store up enough to last them through the famine. I see that as "savings" and it was instructed by God through the dream. I think God wants us to be responsible with what we are given. We are his stewards with what we have here on earth. I do think some are called to "give it all up" and rely on faith, but I don't think everyone is called to live that way in such a drastic way I mean...we all should live by faith! We are savers and if we hadn't been the last 3 months would have been horrible since Joey was laid off. We did rely a lot on on others and our faith grew as we relied on God's plans for us. If we wouldn't have had savings we'd be digging ourselves out of a hole of debt (3 months worth). Anyway...just another view point. And I'm happy to say Joey has a new job!

Anonymous said...

You are correct in saying there is no Biblical basis for savings in terms of building own selfish wealth or preparing for a "restful retirement". However...there is plenty if Biblical basis for not being a slave to debt. And most Americans use credit cards instead of a small emergency fund (savings) and spend more than they earn...that is for sure not God's way. So some savings principles could actually be called "God's ways"...

Emily @ Mama Days said...

I couldn't agree with you more.

It's one thing to be smart with your money and use it wisely. But it's a whole different story to live your whole life around money, and think that its godly.

God wants us to be good stewards of ALL we have been given: money, talents, everything. But you're right - God's plans are rarely ours. So we can plan, plan, plan, and live comfortably, but God does ever call us to live comfortably. Ever. In the end, those people who have awesome retirement accounts? that's wonderful, and like you said - nothing wrong with it. But at the same time, none of us are guaranteed tomorrow. So we need to balance our lives with using the intelligence and wisdom God has given us (being good stewards) but also trusting God to provide for us, even if that means no vacation home in the mountains. Sometimes, God's plan is for you to spend that money you were putting away for the vacation home to help a family memeber. Or adopt a child.

I agree with you!

Anonymous said...

I know what person you're referring to in your post. I actually went through that class at my church, and it was life-changing. You can't judge the content of someone's message, without first listening to the whole message. The main points he's referring to when he says "God's way" really are Biblical concepts. He talks a lot about always having an "open hand" with money, rather than a "closed fist." You can't hold onto your money need to be willing to give and be generous, and help humanity. God says being generous financially is the one area of life you can test Him in, and He promises you'll be more blessed for it.

But the class I went through doesn't focus on "saving" in terms of building personal, selfish wealth. It teaches great principles like budgeting and methods for getting out of debt.

Every person who went through the class has testified to having a new heart of generosity and have also paid off a whole lot of debt (which God tells us not to have).

The points that he calls "God's Ways" are living frugally, being generous, being wise and a good steward of our finances, and making plans so that we do not become prisoners of our money. Pretty Biblical if you ask me.

Everything we do must be in preparation for eternity. And I completely agree with you on all your Biblical points! Well said! I just think you may have misinterpreted at least part of the message this guy is trying to share with people.

Katie said...

I completely agree. I have a feeling I know who you are talking about and I have gone through one of this person's classes and the whole time it bothered me and frequently bothers me still to this day. I agree with not being in debt (which we are still trying to get out of what we have!) but building up wealth for yourself is something I just don't see as biblical. It kind of (really) makes me ill to think of all the money that people have in savings accounts that they may never even touch when that money could go to giving a child a home, or feeding a family, or giving shelter or drinking water to someone who needs it. I'm not saying that we use our money perfectly to invest in others over ourselves, but that is something I strive to be. One thing I am not striving to be is comfortable!

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